Andiamo 45 Mile Run
October 9, 2004
By Jaret Seiberg
Andiamo must harken back to how ultra running was in the 1970s when pounding pavement was the order of the day.
That’s never been popular for me. I’ve stopped running marathons because I realized I don’t like the pavement and car exhaust..
Yet here I was Oct. 9 in Shirlington preparing to run along a railroad right-of-way that was paved, involved many street crossings and had as many urban segments as it did park sections.
Seems logical to me.
I met Michele Harmon, Mike Priddy and Quatro Hubbard near the Shirlington movie theater to get a ride to the start in Purcellville. Of course I was running a few minutes late. Seems to take far too long to get to Shirlington.
That became a recurring theme for me during the day.
Anstr’s instructions to get to the start were simple. Drive to Purcellville. Look for the flashing light. Turn right.
We were just hoping there was only one flashing light.
En route we did a bathroom stop at McDonald’s and a few blocks later saw the flashing lights. We arrived just as Anstr was getting ready to start the run. I didn’t even have time to see Vicki’s bruise before we began.
I started off with Russ Evans. I’ve learned over a series of races that if I want to run with Russ that I need to stick with him early on. Russ gets faster as races get longer where as I slow down.
The early section of the WO&D is the best. It goes through still undeveloped farm land and the adjacent bridal trail makes it seem like you are running in the deep woods rather than through civilization.
Mike Wedemeyer and Mike Priddy soon were alongside. Wedemeyer told us his cheering section would be at an upcoming street crossing armed with donuts. He even implored us to take a donut. Mike lied. His cheerleaders were there. But no donuts.
The disappointment was short lived because we soon hit the first aid station at mile 7 or so. Anstr, Vicki and Michele were there cheering everyone and offering up all sorts of snacks and beverages. The three made the run far more enjoyable than a solo effort would have been.
I left the aid station with Mike Priddy. Russ of course did not bother to stop and I did not see him again before the end.
The two Mikes and I pulled into Leesburg a few miles later where we met Karen Dale, an old friend and former before-work running buddy before she got married, had two kids and moved to Leesburg.
Karen would run the next nine miles with me. Needless to say, she was much more pleasant than either Mike. In fact, I think the two Mikes were intimidated by her because they sped off.
That led us into the second aid station. This time we stopped long enough for me to see Vicki’s bruise. Must confess that it is quite impressive. I thought that Sue Baehre knew how to fall. But Vicki has her beat by a mile.
Now showing off Vicki’s bruise to Karen might not have been the best move of all time. Karen is getting back into running now that her second child is eight months old. I’m trying to get her to do the Women’s Half next September followed by Potomac Heritage a few months later. I had her mostly convinced until she saw the bruise.
Off we went out of Leesburg over what is easily the most boring section of the course. The two Mikes were ahead but Quatro had caught up and the three of us were chatting up how great the weather was.
Route 28 appeared before we knew it and Karen veered off to the parking lot for her ride. Quatro and I followed because Mike Priddy had earlier told us that Michele would be there with aid.
About half way down the side trail we saw the two Mikes returning empty handed. No aid.
The four of us continued down the trail, choosing the bridal path whenever possible to limit the pavement pounding. Quatro and Mike Priddy were out of water. We saw a strip mall about 50 yards off trail. We detoured while Wedemeyer went on. I got an ice cream and a big jug of water, which we used to refill our packs.
The detour cost us about 15 minutes. Later I’d come to regret that because there were other aid options not that far away. Worse, the ice cream treat – some sort of sherbet push-up – gave me stomach problems.
That ice cream forced me to the port-a-potty a few miles later. Mike Priddy and Quatro continued. I caught up to them in Herndon where Vicki and Michele had a wonderful aid station set up.
We learned that Jim Cavanaugh and Farouk Elkassed had passed us during the convenience store detour. Quatro and I took off in pursuit. Mike stayed so he could remove his shirt and have Michele rub some sort of cream all over his chest. We were jealous.
Hopefully no one in Herndon ever has their house catch fire. I say that because we passed the local fire station where they were testing the hose. Quatro ran over and asked to be hosed down. The firefighters missed.
Cavanaugh was snared outside of Vienna trying to pick up a female mountain biker. We were cheering on his moxie. Then we got closer and saw that it was Kerry Owens, who was trying to get Jim to fix her brakes. Yet when Quatro and I offered to help, suddenly the bike was fixed. We found this suspicious, but left them on the side of the trail.
Jim caught up to us at the Vienna aid station. He told us that he needed to go take a shower at the Vienna rec center. And apparently he really did do that.
One more unexpected aid station awaited just after Gallows Road, where we got to see Michele and Vicki again. Then it was off for the final eight miles or so as we crossed through Falls Church and into the second nicest section of the trail where it follows Four Mile Run.
This part could have been even nicer. We encountered a 5K for large, over-weight people. Quatro and I actually had trouble getting around this group as they often walked three abreast and took up much of the trail.
We hit the three mile post with 28 minutes to break eight hours. Quatro then set a killer pace. We ran to mile two in eight minutes. Then he granted us a two minute walk. After that, it was a sprint to the finish with Quatro dragging my sorry butt to the end.
Anstr and Michele were there to record the end. I collapsed onto the grassy hill and Vicki brought me cup after cup of soda. Thank you Vicki.
We had a small party going with the drink flowing freely and Anstr making everyone sandwiches. It was perfect weather and we watched Jim finish a few minutes later followed by Mike Priddy and then Farouk Elkassed.
At that point, I realized it was 4 p.m., which is when I promised my wife I’d be home to relieve her from the kids. I stumbled back to my car, ignoring the adjacent beer festival. Off I sped only to drive straight into a traffic jam caused by a four car, one truck accident. WTOP conveniently forgot to mention the accident in its traffic report. Got home at 5:30.
On the drive home I was happy that I ran Andiamo but also convinced that I would never do it again. Since then, my resolve not to repeat has weakened. I would, however, run it differently. From Herndon to the end, Quatro and I were really running this. I think it has to do with the desire to be finished and the relatively flat surface. Next time I would make more of a day of it, stopping at the Diary Queen in Herndon and at the various 7-Elevens for treats. It would take longer, but probably make that final stretch much more fun.
Still Andiamo was a great experience and a true test of physical conditioning. You actually run the 45 miles. If you run the bridal trail, you probably add another two or three miles. There are no big mountain climbs to rest on the way up and coast on the way down.
I learned that my scaled back workout routine post-Jake has left me able to finish Andiamo, but just not as strongly as I expected or would like. Quatro, however, never appeared to tire.
A tremendous thank you to all the volunteers, especially Anstr, Vicki and Michele. Let’s do this again in 2006.